Tag Archives: Bob Holden

Contentious Maspeth Knockdown Center faces opposition in liquor license application


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/ Ariana Page Russell

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In round one in the fight for The Knockdown Center to obtain a liquor license, it seems the local community board won’t be in their corner.

The center recently applied for a cabaret liquor license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA), according to Community Board 5, despite heavy opposition from residents and elected officials. The cabaret class license will allow the center to serve liquor at events, which have “musical entertainment,” for 600 or more people.

The community board wrote a letter to SLA opposing the license, outlining fears of negative impacts the center could have on the neighborhood.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Bob Holden, a member of the board and president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This is a blue print for disaster right here.”

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition, and most recently a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes and large exhibits in the future.

In the letter, the board cited various reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor licenses, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to the immediate residences.

“All too typical with young people partying at raves and other events, which this could certainly house there is extensive alcohol abuse, but also abuse of prescription drugs and drugs like molly and ecstasy,” the letter stated. “There is a residential community very nearby, just on the opposite side of Flushing Avenue from the site in question. Problems with intoxication, fights, calls for ambulances and noise from loud music will hurt the residential community.”

Members are also worried that the center is taking away the opportunity for industrial jobs, as the site is zoned for manufacturing.

Recently it was revealed that Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in his preliminary budget for the Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) program, which were created to save and foster manufacturing jobs in the city. There are two IBZs in the board, one in Masepth, and the newly approved zone in Ridgewood.

“We should start talking about how we could protect our manufacturing zones,” said John Maier, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee. “How we can go and address our elected (officials) and the city government to help ensure that these facilities don’t [effect] on our IBZs (Industrial Business Zones)?”

The center has been working on obtaining its Place of Assembly and Certificate of Occupancy, and has maintained it will not harm the community.

“We are excited that the community is getting involved and expressing their concerns,” said Tyler Myers, manager of the Knockdown Center. “We know that our direct neighbors are excited about it. The concerns of the larger community weren’t true last summer, and won’t be true [in the future].”

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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St. Saviour’s needs new storage space


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Bob Holden

A historic Maspeth church needs salvation to avoid damnation.

St. Saviour’s has been warehoused for the past few years by Galasso Trucking, which donated space and trailers when the 165-year-old church, which had been deconstructed, needed to be stored.

The Maspeth trucking company now needs the space back.

“They’ve been great, more than great,” said Bob Holden, president on the Juniper Park Civic Association and advocate for St. Saviour’s. “They’ve done this for three years. We thought it would only be a few months.”

Without a space to store the church, one of the oldest buildings in Queens may be lost, a situation Holden said would be tragic.

One plan has the church being moved to a plot of land at All Faiths Cemetery, but the area needs to be cleared and leveled — which will cost about $45,000 and another $40,000 to build a garage.

Grants totaling $150,000 from Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and former state Senator Serphin Maltese were secured for moving the church, though the money is still being held by the state. Hevesi and Senator Joe Addabbo are working to get the funds released, Holden said.

Until the money is released, little can be done.

“We have the land and the grants, we just need the cash,” Holden said.

Holden bemoaned the fact that Maspeth, the oldest settlement on Long Island, lacks any landmarks. The church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn, who also designed Trinity Church in Manhattan, in the Carpenter Gothic-style.

Built in 1847, St. Saviour’s closed in 1995 due to a dwindling congregation. For more than a decade the church continued to stand on Maspeth Hill before facing demolition in 2008.

The church was literally minutes away from being demolished when a deal was worked out that gave the Juniper Park Civic Association 30 days to deconstruct the building and get it off the property. It took them 40 days to take down the church and store it in carefully-labeled sections.

“We’ve come this far and saved a piece of Maspeth and Queens history,” said Holden. “We’ll keep fighting.”

Bill would alleviate train troubles for Middle Village residents


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Bob Holden

A congressional hopeful has joined the fight of residents who continue to rail against trains they say are disrupting their lives.

The Fresh Pond freight rail lines, operated by New York & Atlantic Railroad in Middle Village and Glendale, have long bothered residents that live adjacent to the tracks — especially those along 69th Place near the overpass.

“The trains pass through early in the morning, with 80 cars in tow banging,” said Anthony Pedalino who lives down the block from the tracks in Middle Village. “It wakes you up almost nightly.”

Joe Dalfino, who has lived next door to the tracks for 20 years, said the noise and fumes from the cars has picked up over the past few years. Train traffic picked up around five years ago when the railroad began carrying garbage through the area, residents claim.

In November, the company agreed to move the noisier aspects of the train 400 feet, though this has alleviated little of the noise, nearby residents said.

Residents still complain of waking up to early morning trains up to six days a week.

“For far too long, residents of this area have had to put up with the noise, the smell and the lack of security resulting from rail companies ignoring the community’s concerns and performing railroad yard activities outside the railroad yard,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, candidate for the 6th Congressional District.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is concerned the disturbances will only get worse if garbage from an additional six community boards begins passing through, though this is currently under review.

Lancman intends to introduce legislation that will alleviate the suffering of the nearby residents if elected to Congress. The state and city have little to no power to regulate the railway.

His bill, the Neighborhood Rail Improvement Act, would prohibit railroad yard activities — coupling, decoupling and maintenance — from taking place on tracks outside of the railroad yard and give local residents input into yard operations

“I think the government needs to stand up for its residents,” said Pedalino. “It’s not just the railways, it’s the government that’s allowing the railways to do this.”

Noise is not the annoyance those living adjacent to the tracks deal with; residents complain of the odor emanating from train cars filled with garbage and the train’s diesel fumes.

During the summer, Pedalino said he must keep his windows closed and his air conditioner running due to the fumes and Dalfino said he can no longer use his backyard for barbecues.

“We need to institutionalize mechanisms for the community to have input, to require the railroads carrier, the agencies that oversee the railroad’s operations, to sit down with the community hear their concerns and give answers,” he said. “It’s through that process that the community is able to influence and shape the policies and practices of the railroad.”

Deal to halt train noise, pollution in Middle Village


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Local leaders and politicians have moved a noisy and odorous train hookup further from Middle Village houses, though community concerns remain.

Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblymembers Andrew Hevesi and Mike Miller and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley were able to successfully negotiate terms with CSX Freight and NY & Atlantic Railroad to move the trains further from residential areas, a plan that has now been implemented.

The trains were previously left idling while their brakes were pressurized at the intersection of 69th Place and Juniper Boulevard South directly behind a residential area, causing considerable noise pollution as well as emitting fumes from garbage on board.

Though local officials hailed this first step as a move in the right direction, discussions with the train company are not over.

“I appreciate that CSX and NY & Atlantic are addressing the quality of life concerns of the people who live near the railroad,” said Crowley. “It is important to know that this is just a first step and that we have many more expectations for the Railroad companies to meet.”

Officials are still exploring further ways to remedy the quality of life issues that residents may still face — including more noise and odor.

“There’s been an improvement,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, since the train hookup has been moved. “There’s still a problem with trains switching and idling for long periods of time. They only moved it 400 feet, so it’s still affecting people, though it’s a little better now.”

The primary hookup is now located several hundred feet southwest of 69th Street near All Faiths Cemetery – moving the noise and fumes further from the residential community.

A secondary hookup, utilized only when the trains are operated when trains are operating at maximum capacity, is located 450 feet back from the current site.

“It’s a great first step in a long process. This move should help address some of the quality of life concerns faced by those living in the surrounding community,” said Miller.